The recent tragedy of Rutgers has put the issue of Gay Bullying into stark perspective. Filmed surreptitiously by his roommate, a gay college student killed himself after his sexual preference was broadcast to the campus community. Gay bullying leads to an increased stigma against homosexuality as well as a higher likelihood that gay individuals will commit acts of self-harm.
Bullying an individual because of their sexual preference is very common in the school system and in society at large. Although homosexuality has certainly received a more even treatment in the popular media lately, it is still marginalized because of its perceived unnaturalness. The hetero-normative culture is still the primary culture in America, and many straight individuals are so uncomfortable with homosexuality that they act out by mocking and taunting gays, as well as by using physical violence against them.
Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers teen that killed himself after being filmed during a sexual encounter with another man, was hardly the first gay suicide to be chalked up to bullying. Across the country, suicide has become somewhat of an epidemic in the gay community. Bullying frequently leads to suicides, especially when gays find it difficult to talk to others about their problems, or when they are unwilling to openly declare themselves as gay. Often the bullying touches on preexisting personal discomforts and they only reinforce negative self-images of the bullied people.
Bullying is often just the start of anti-gay activity. When bullying becomes the norm in schools and in young children’s’ behavior, they gradually move on to progressively more and more serious negative treatment of gays. According to the New Yorker, “On Saturday, October 9th, readers of the Times woke up to a front-page story about the abduction of three men in the Bronx and their subsequent torture at the hands of members of a gang called the Latin King Goonies. The Goonies appear to have...